eFigs: The Indie Game From My Dream This Morning

If you want to skip to the game, just look for the bar, below. Otherwise, sit down for the full story!

I went to bed in a bad way last night. I played 18 hours of straight of Kingdom: Two Crowns. I have not done something like this since I was a teenager and I’m almost forty. It’s not even that compelling of a game (I mean obviously it’s addicting). By the time it was 3AM and I was finally tearing myself away from it, I felt awful. So bad, that when I tried to fall asleep I worried for my health.

Needless to say, I slept fitfully. As I write this I’m exhausted and feel like I didn’t get nearly good enough sleep last night. It’s not a complaint, I just want to describe what mental state this game comes from.

This morning I dreamt that I was walking through downtown Raleigh with some new friends. We entered an indie RPG shop. Oh wait, but it wasn’t an indie RPG shop from the outside, it was an indie software shop. I don’t remember the shop’s name, but the window had quotes from a famous Google executive when Google launched Android and gave a talk in Raleigh during a US tour. I know that Google didn’t actually invent Android, they bought it from someone, but this is my dream world, man. The quotes were things likn “It will be able to do anything Linux can do” and “Absolutely no bullshit”. I guess my dream originally intended for this store to sell high-end custom ROMs for Android, among other things. And yeah I’m pretty sure in our world that would be illegal to sell without some kind of license from Google.

But that was not to be. Upon entering the store, one of my new friends says, “So which boardgame should we pick up for the party?” As I look around I realize that she didn’t know we had walked into an indie RPG shop, not an indie boardgame shop. I ask her if she’s okay with an RPG since that what they sell here. She tells me that she doesn’t know but asks me if I can run it. I don’t see anything I know from the real world except Durance (it’s probably not spelled out properly on the box, but I knew it was that) and I should point out that in real life I’ve never played an indie RPG before, not even a popular one like a PbtA game. One very thick hardbound book had some compelling name I forget with a very actiony looking cover, but upon inspection it was some jumbled mess of software instructions and RPG game instructions I think. I just remember feeling it was unpleasant and confusing to read.

Then there was a skinny softback called “eFigs”


It’s a cyberpunk game

Figs turns out, I guess, to be short for “Figures”, the revered celebrities of a future America

They engage in every kind of sinful, depraved form of carnality that one can imagine, yet they are never put in harms way for doing so

Because it’s their eFigs that do the dirty work for them; their proxy robotic AI (think West World tech, I suppose)

The eFigs actually do all the scandalous stuff, and it’s broadcast semi-live to various entertainment shows that edit the content in different ways as they see fit

eFigs follow only 2 rules: never kill a human, and never interact with a Fig directly

So the pieces of drama (I imagine) would come from:
How much debauchery for entertainment is too much?
eFigs don’t kill humans, but what do to keep shows rated highest?
What if they can’t tell a Fig and eFig apart?
What are the real Figs actually like?
Obviously, what about when eFigs go against their programming?
Who is making the eFigs?
Who is recording the shows, and how?
Where is the money coming form and going?

Maybe you could say it’s iRobot meets West World meets Fantasy Island

I suppose if I were making the game, each “campaign” or “adventure” would be the name a show. So if you want a central motif to be drug trafficking, you can: camera AI search out eFigs who are engaged in drugs and records their activities, and it’s cut into the show to maintain a consistent theme.

I’m not entirely certain such a game is plausible, and having never played an indie game, I certainly have no intention designing one, but thought I would share this morning anyway since it seems like a fun story.

Edit: Oh, and silly me, the PCs are eFigs. Although I suppose this doesn’t have to be the case. They could be human IT-investigators troubleshooting reports of malfunctions. Their job is ostensibly to investigate and solve problems, but they contract for a company hired by a corporation that makes money from the shows, and so it’s never intended for them to reveal anything that would jeopardize the entertainment. But self-aware eFigs is another good angle.

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Nice mix of themes. On “how far is too much”, you’ve got a 200 word RPG that’s hilarious : Outrageous. The investigating part needs some kind of resource balancing and probably two characters per player, maybe one collective eFig (made like the Authority in Misspent youth) or one collective Investigator or Media faction. This last option kills the profit of having various PIs and media’s competing for truth/audience/justice, which is just what I would like to get deep with a startling premise.
I leave metaphysical AI questions to others who like them more.
Ih and, thanks for sharing your dream ! Next time, set an alarm to stop playing.

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A fascinating short story about the mind of a gamer! Lovely, and I’m sure many of us can relate to this kind of experience - I know I can!

It’s actually quite a compelling premise for a game: a sort of 21st-century, reality tv-inspired twist of Blade Runner. I’d love to see that explored.

My initial thoughts on design:

Go with a GMless scene structured game, a la Contenders, so that the frame of the game provides the right constraints to keep us addressing the right themes, while giving each player room to express themselves creatively: inventing new twists on celebrity culture, futuristic media, the nature of the Uncanny Valley, and human debauchery. The fun arises from the juxtaposition of those two elements.

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Also, being asked to run an RPG by non-gamer friends, as in your dream, is one of my favourite things. Every time I’ve done it, it’s been a blast!

My favourite games for that are my own Musette, a storytelling game, and Monsterhearts, as a compelling and focused design which gets us into relatable drama.

I hope your dream turns into reality sometime!

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